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Under The Radeon HD 7970 Super Overclock's Hood

Gigabyte Radeon HD 7970 Super Overclock: Now With Windforce 5X
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This model is not based on AMD's Radeon HD 7970 GHz Edition design, and we think that’s a good thing. A massive cooler invites us to see just how far we can overclock Gigabyte's board, and we haven't had good experiences with tweaking the GHz Edition card due to its PowerTune with Boost feature.

Gigabyte is actually fairly conservative with its factory-set 1080 MHz GPU frequency. Even AMD's reference design can hit that without much of an issue. Of course, we'll see how much further than that we can actually go.

Three gigabytes of GDDR5 memory operate at 1375 MHz, matching AMD’s reference design. This is a disappointingly low number, particularly since Gigabyte’s marketing materials originally claimed 1550 MHz. The modules themselves come from Hynix, and we did manage to push them beyond 1500 MHz on our own.

The Radeon HD 7970 Super Overclock features one dual-link DVI, one HDMI, and two mini-DisplayPort outputs. It's other specs are as follows:


Gigabyte 7970 Super Overclock
AMD Radeon HD 7970 GHz Edition
AMD Radeon HD 7970
Nvidia GeForce GTX 680
Stream Processors
2048
2048
20481536
Texture Units
128
128128
128
Full Color ROPs
32
3232
32
GPU Clock
1080 MHz
1000 MHz Base
1050 MHz Boost
925 MHz1006 MHz Base
1058 MHz Boost
Texture Fill Rate
138.2 Gtex/s
134.4 Gtex/s
118.4 Gtex/s
128.8 Gtex/s
Memory Clock
1375 MHz
1500 MHz
1375 MHz1502 MHz
Memory Bus
384-bit
384-bit
384-bit256-bit
Memory Bandwidth
264 GB/s
288 GB/s
264 GB/s
192.3 GB/s
Graphics RAM
3 GB GDDR53 GB GDDR53 GB GDDR5
2 GB GDDR5
Die Size
365 mm²365 mm²365 mm²
294 mm²
Transistors (Billion)
4.31
4.314.31
3.54
Process Technology
28 nm
28 nm28 nm28 nm
Power Connectors
2 x 8-pin
1 x 8-pin, 1 x 6-pin1 x 8-pin, 1 x 6-pin2 x 6-pin
Maximum Power  (TDP)
300 W
275 W250 W
195 W


Although it looks impressive, Gigabyte's front shroud is purely cosmetic. The cooler is closed off and attached to the card’s PCB with six screws.

PCB Comparison

In the image above, Gigabyte's Radeon HD 7970 Super Overclock is up top and AMD's reference Radeon HD 7970 is below. It's easy to see the differences between them. In addition to a larger PCB, Gigabyte's card has a bigger VRM with higher-quality components.

The inductor coils and voltage transformers consist of encapsulated ferrite coils and low-RDS(on) MOSFETs, putting them in an entirely different league as AMD's own design. This should become an advantage in overclocking.

On the back of the Radeon HD 7970 Super Overclock we find five proadlizers (high-capacity tantalum polymer capacitors). The power circuitry explains why the card is as long as it is.

The back plate’s only function is to stabilize Gigabyte's 7970 so that it doesn’t bend under the heavy cooler's weight. As far as quality goes, the on-board components leave nothing to be desired.

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